When Dwight Howard was on the Orlando Magic he was one of the most dominant centers in the league, being named an All-Star his last six seasons in Orlando and winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award three times.
Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012 though, and it was believed that he would become the next great center in Los Angeles following in the footsteps of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.
The addition of Howard was supposed to give the Lakers all the pieces needed to make another championship run, with the team also trading for former two-time MVP, Steve Nash, that offseason to join Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace in the starting lineup.
Things did not go as planned though as Howard dealt with injuries that season and clashed personalities with Bryant, which ultimately led to the Lakers losing in the first round of the playoffs and Howard signing with the Houston Rockets that next offseason.
In a recent interview with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, Howard commented on his time with the Lakers saying he lost confidence in himself:
“I lost confidence in who I am as a player,” he recalls. “I’d hear people say, ‘You should play more like Shaq,’ so I tried to bully guys. But that didn’t work because I’m not as big as Shaq. Then I’d hear people say, ‘You smile too much, you should be more like Kobe,’ so I tried to put on a mean face and play mad. But I wound up getting all these stupid techs and flagrant fouls.” He even threw on a headband and kneepads, like Wilt Chamberlain, masquerading as any great Laker except Dwight Howard. He grew anxious enough that he occasionally called friends at halftime and asked what they thought of his performance.
Howard’s career has spiraled a bit since playing for the Lakers as after things again didn’t work out in Houston he signed a contract with his hometown Atlanta Hawks last summer. After just one season with the Hawks, Howard was recently traded to the Charlotte Hornets, putting him on his fifth team in the last seven years.
In the interview, Howard said that he contemplated retirement after the 2014-15 season, but ultimately decided to keep playing and at 31-years-old he still could have some good years left in him as he averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds last season with Atlanta.